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PBS finds a pipeline

Web ads will fill gap in fundraising

Facing a tough hunt for funding every year — particularly for public dollars — PBS will start taking ads for its Web site, PBS.org, beginning Oct. 1.

“In order to continue to provide access to a wide range of free, high-quality content and services, PBS is exploring new, responsible ways to expand our funding,” the pubcaster said in a statement. “Internet sponsorship and advertising is one part of this effort. Revenue from these activities will be reinvested in the television programs, educational services, Web sites and more that PBS provides.”

Org has a definite target for revenue it hopes to generate from online ads, “but we keep that figure confidential,” said spokesman Kevin Dando.

Many kinds of ads will not be accepted, including those for tobacco, alcohol, weapons, illegal drugs, pornography/adult content, gambling and political lobbying. Some others — such as ads for R-rated movies, prescription drugs and “controversial topics” — will draw “strict review” prior to acceptance, PBS said.

“By its nature, and because of its mission, PBS does have very strict rules about its online sponsorships,” Dando said. “But we have already received strong response from advertisers and have confirmed commitments from a number of advertisers, including a large grocery chain, car companies and nonprofits.”

Pubcasting researchers spent several months looking at what other, similar sites were doing with ads and also discussed the idea with PBS stations, Dando said.”PBS should not be seeking commercial opportunities in the broadband market,” Jeff Chester, exec director of watchdog group Center for Digital Democracy, wrote on his blog. “Instead, it should be pioneering new forms of noncommercial content readily available throughout our ubiquitous digital system.”

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